At times, stress management seems almost impossible. Everyone goes through a time in their life when they feel like things are spiraling out of control. The holidays prove to be one of the most stressful times of the year; but what is stress? Stress is the physical and mental response to a perceived challenge. When an individual is overly stressed, it takes it’s toll mentally, physically and emotionally.
For me, the month of December was quite stressful. I know in the past I’ve joked with friends stating that I tend to take on too much. I don’t seem to be able to say the word “NO” when asked to take on additional tasks. Well, this year, not being able to say “NO” got me into serious trouble. I had taken on way too much: Elementary school subbing, volunteer commitments, yearbook deadlines, creating holiday centers for 100 second graders, blog deadlines, events to attend and write about, my children’s after school activities, and someone driving through our cinderblock wall, caused me to have daily headaches due to stress. My usual way to cope and accomplish my tasks, and keep track of everything that I have to accomplish, is to make a list. Unfortunately, just making a list didn’t work, there wasn’t enough time to accomplish everything.
This month I had the opportunity to speak with Berenise Lemus, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for Kaiser Permanente Orange County who shared her tips on stress management. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Berenise Lemus works with a lot of individuals who have a difficult time handling stress. She focuses on “Self Care” and how it effects the different aspects of an individual’s life. Once you’re able to pinpoint the stressors, you can develop an action plan to get back to being your best self. She broke self care into 6 distinct categories:
- Emotional Self Care: Be aware of how you’re feeling. Do you have new responsibilities? How are you feeling about the changes brought on by the New Year? By paying attention to feelings, you’ll be able to adapt better to the changes going on around you.
- Social Self Care: Who is your support system, or who do you turn to when you feel you need to talk to someone? Is there a relationship you want to nurture this year? When we are under more stress, we tend to isolate ourselves. By focusing on social self care, our support system may actually help, by coming up with solutions to help solve the issues that are causing you to feel stressed.
- Financial Self Care: Are we living within our means? Be honest with yourself. Is there pressure to spend more/buy more? When we are in control of our finances, we are less stressed and have more time to enjoy ourselves.
- Community Self Care: Where do you go for spiritual community? Do you attend bible study or a prayer group? Do you spend time volunteering in your community? By focusing on your faith, religion, or even helping others, can help to reduce stress.
- Physical Self Care: When you’re overly stressed, the first thing we tend to ignore is regular grooming, healthy eating, exercise, etc. Focus on your physical well being by taking an exercise class, go for a jog, or even a manicure/pedicure may be relaxing and reduce the stress.
- Career Self Care: Are you happy with your career? Are you happy in your current position, or would it be worth the effort to get additional training? You may consider a career change if you aren’t satisfied with your present career choice. What are your strengths, potential and areas for growth? Determine where you would like to be and develop a plan to eliminate work stress.
Berenise shared that by focusing on these areas of our life, breaking down the actual issues and addressing our basic needs, we can prevent some unnecessary stressors in our life. As for me, I realized that there are some things that I can control, and others that I cannot. By focusing on tasks with immediate deadlines and accomplishing those responsibilities, I am able to reduce my stress level. Also, as I said earlier – adding the word “NO” into my vocabulary would be a BIG stress eliminator!
In speaking with Berenise, I discovered that as a member of Kaiser Permanente, there are classes available that focus on stress management. Some of the options include:
- Stress & Emotional Health: A class where you discuss stress, what to do and how to overcome stress
- Mind & Body Program: A 6-week course promoting self care which teaches you to reduce problematic symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress
- Sleep Well Live Well Program: a four week class that focuses on behavioral techniques and ways to reduce insomnia.
Enrollment for medical coverage is still open through January 31st. A health care provider like Kaiser Permanente Orange County goes beyond simply offering health insurance coverage, to becoming a families’ health care partner. Whether explaining the nitty-gritty on how to read plan coverage, to sharing what to expect at doctor’s visits, to making sense of the latest in health care news, they’re a great source of information for moms and families. As a Kaiser member, you’ll have the ability to select from many services such as: primary and urgent care, emergency facilities, labor and delivery, pharmacy, and lab all housed under one roof. The ability to choose your own doctor based on their specialty is an added bonus. Additionally, when you register through kp.org you can view most lab results, email your doctor’s office non-urgent questions, schedule and cancel routine appointments, and even manage a family member’s health. Find out more today at: kp.org/orangecounty. Connect with Kaiser Permanente via social media, visit Facebook or Twitter.